Where I grew up, in a remote village at the back of a valley, the old still thought the dead needed attending to - a notion so universal, it's enscribed in all religions. If you didn't, they might exact revenge upon the living.

W. G. Sebald

W. G. Sebald

Profession: Writer
Nationality: German

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Because (in principle) things outlast us, they know more about us than we know about them: they carry the experiences they have had with us inside them and are - in fact- the book of our history opened before us.

How strange it is, to be standing leaning against the current of time.

Looking back, you might say that Ambros Adelwarth the private man had ceased to exist, that nothing was left but his shell of decorum.

He felt closer to dust, he said, then to light, air or water. There was nothing he found so unbearable as a well-dusted house, and he never felt more at home than in places were things remain undisturbed, muted under the grey, velvety sinter left when matter dissolved, little by little, into nothingness.

Madame Gherardi maintained that love, like most other blessings of civilisation, was a chimaera which we desire the more, the further removed we are from Nature.

Only in the books written in earlier times did she sometimes think she found some faint idea of what it might be like to be alive.

It would be presumptuous to say writing a book would be a sufficient gesture, but if people were more preoccupied with the past, maybe the events that overwhelm us would be fewer.

Although I hold a German passport, I feel very much alienated when I'm there.

Occasionally I write a small piece or the odd lecture in English, and I teach in English, but my fiction is always written in German.

On every new thing there lies already the shadow of annihilation.

We learn from history as much as a rabbit learns from an experiment that's performed upon it.

The capital amassed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through various forms of slave economy is still in circulation, said De Jong, still bearing interest, increasing many times over and continually burgeoning anew.

To this day there is something illusionistic and illusory about the relationship of time and space as we experience it in traveling, which is why whenever we come home from elsewhere we never feel quite sure if we have really been abroad.

I don't want to talk about my trials and tribulations. Once you reveal even part of what your real problems might be in life, they come back in a deformed way.